When I’m not trying to be a reasonable runner, or trying to make my employers believe that I’m a worthwhile use of a salary, I like to read books. There comes a time in any runner’s life (I think) that it seems like just putting on those running shoes one more time, let alone stepping out the door to use them, is a chore of difficulty beyond words. In these dark, dark times, it helps me to read (or reread) a few books about, or at least peripherally related to, running. These are a few great ones I’ve found; if you’ve got others, I’d love to hear them.
The Perfect Mile, by Neil Bascomb:
This is an outstanding book by a powerful journalistic writer. Neil Bascomb has an eclectic list of non-fiction titles to his credit; this story is not only the only one about running, but the one with local interest. The story follows Wes Santee of the USA, John Landy of Australia, and (not least) Roger Bannister of England through the early 50s in their individual quest to break the 4-minute mile, and culminates with Bannister and Landy’s legendary mile race at the 1954 Empire Games in Vancouver. A great read, and a little window into the end of the golden age of amateur sport.
Once a Runner, by John L. Parker
I was introduced to this book by a friend at World Mountain Running Championships in 2009, and read it twice through a travelling/running trip in Europe. A novel that weaves together the drive of an elite runner and the questionable politics of the American Deep South in the 70s, the literary merit of this book is questionable but it is both entertaining and a great look into the mind of a top miler. (Maybe best to stay away from the sequel, “Again to Carthage”.)
The Long Run, by Leo Furey
This is my dark horse Can-Lit pick. It sat in my apartment for years, the property of my brother, before I picked it up to read it, assured it had nothing to do with running. I found this untrue. The story centers on a group of boys in a St. John’s orphanage, living bleak lives ruled by draconian priests, who begin to train – in secret and at night – for the annual St. John’s marathon. A different perspective on the freedom running can give, this book is worth the read.
Good luck to any running in the Sun Run this weekend.